* * *
They remind me of teenagers
flying in the face of reason to mate.
He’s cocky as a 1950s movie star,
James Dean in crimson feathers.
She’s plain as a maiden Shaker,
tan except for a candy-corn beak
and licorice jujube eyes. Forgive me,
but how dumb they are, sloppily
making a nest three feet above
the driveway in the exposed crotch
of a frail forsythia. For days
nothing happens. Then I look down
upon two eggs the color of stones,
the next day two more. She’s gone
for hours, he doesn’t come at all.
The eggs hatch into dinosaur
templates, bony sticks and
ashen feathers, but she’s gone off
someplace again and so has he.
I yearn to eat a worm and vomit it
into those orange paper-lantern
angling beaks. At 102 degrees,
their bodies curl into each other.
One lifts its dying, old-man head
to wither me with grief. At dawn
I hear the gang-boy calling. She
can’t stop chirping. Then, silence.
At noon I force myself to look
into the nest. It’s clean as a whistle.
Faced with such an indigestible
mystery, I brood until the fall, then
cut the bush down, nest and all.
* * *
Nancy Brewka-Clark’s fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction and drama appear in anthologies published by Red Hen Press, University of Iowa Press, Southeast Missouri State University Press, Harvard College Children’s Stories, YouthPLAYS of Los Angeles, Smith & Kraus, and Routledge, among others. She is past winner of the Helen Schaible International Sonnet Competition and the 2019 winner of the Amy Lowell Poetry Prize. Her debut book of poetry, Beautiful Corpus, was published in March 2020 by Kelsay Books. She lives in Beverly, MA with her husband Tom.
featured photo by Nancy Brewka-Clark